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2015 VISIT Balkans Battelli MarinkovicOSCE PA Special Representative Roberto Battelli (left) meets with Serbian Deputy Speaker of Parliament Vladimir Marinkovic in Belgrade, 1 June 2015.COPENHAGEN, 7 September 2015 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Vice-President and Special Representative on South East Europe Roberto Battelli (MP, Slovenia) today welcomed important progress made over the summer months in the Balkans, while urging continued work on regional challenges.

Battelli highlighted the agreements between Belgrade and Prishtine/Pristina reached on 25 August as beneficial.

“All four agreements – on energy, telecommunications, the establishment of an Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities and sharing of the Mitrovice/Mitrovica bridge – are milestone agreements which add constructive momentum to regional co-operation,” he said.

The Special Representative also welcomed the European Union’s political support for the European aspirations of the region, as reconfirmed at the recent Western Balkans Summit in Vienna, and called for the removal of remaining obstacles.

“A spirit of compromise must prevail in the search for mutually acceptable solutions to remaining issues, such as the name dispute between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece. Bilateral disputes should not hold back Skopje’s progress along its accession track to the EU.

“At the same time, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must continue to address its internal challenges. In this context, I welcome the return to parliament of the opposition and I hope that the EU-brokered agreement of 2 June will be implemented in good faith,” Battelli said.

The Special Representative also highlighted a Western Balkans Summit side event on the “Follow Us” initiative, an effort to promote dialogue between prominent women from Belgrade and Prishtine/Pristina that was launched with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo in 2012.

“Reconciliation needs to be inclusive. As has been demonstrated in other regions, women can and must play an active role in reconciliation processes in this region, too. The more we support this perspective, the sooner we will achieve results,” Battelli said.

He also noted the acute challenge posed by the record influx and transit of refugees in South East Europe:

“Refugees go through the Balkans because the EU has blocked other routes. The EU must therefore display maximum solidarity with the region in addressing this challenge, in the best interest of the refugees, as well as of the countries of transit and of destination.”